‘A Chorus Line’ spotlights individual skills of student actors

The passion inherent in those dedicated to the performing arts was clear on Sunday as Ram’s Head put on its final performance of “A Chorus Line” in Roble Gym.

The 1975 musical centers around a group of Broadway dancers auditioning to be in the chorus line for a new musical. The characters in the show are based on the real lives of professional dancers from the 1970s. As each character makes their case for why they deserve the role to the director, Zach (played by Henry Cargill ’26), the stories of their lives — some funny, others desperate, many tragic — shine through.

The physical space of the show — Room 133 in the Roble Arts Gym — was almost self-referential as it was a dance studio itself. The simple set included the dance floor, a studio mirror and the dance bags of the characters thrown to the side of the stage. Chairs were set up right in front of the stage, enabling the audience to have an intimate view of the characters as they performed.

Following the somewhat lackluster opening group number of “I Hope I Get It” — the titular “it” referring to a part in the chorus line — the show transitioned to individual performances. Facing the audience on a bare dance floor and backed by the mirror, dancers are called upon by Zach to tell him something about their lives that goes beyond their resumes. The common thread throughout their stories is how they became performers and what dancing means to them.

For example, the gender-bent role of Mikey Costa (played by Mack Jones ’26 on Sunday, but usually by Katie Baik ’25), delivered the first solo of the show, “I Can Do That.” Jones performed an impressive self-choreographed tap dance while singing about the character’s dance talent that was discovered at age four when watching her sister go to dance classes.

As a group, the company’s performance felt loose and out of sync at times, which was disheartening for a musical so centered on dance. Still, the talent and sheer passion in each of the individual performances was striking. The actors exhibited a very real connection to their dedication to performance.

This theme was demonstrated most prominently in the penultimate song of the musical, “What I Did For Love.” The song is sung by Diana Morales (played by Stella López ’26) as she laments what her future will hold once dancing is no longer an option.

The chorus joins in as Morales sings, “love is never gone/ as we travel on/ love’s what we’ll remember.” It was the most well-executed group number for Ram’s Head’s show. Beyond the various moving parts of the dance that could go awry at any moment, the number gave the cast a chance to reflect on something that carries deep significance to both them and their characters.

Not all of the characters’ stories were fully fleshed out by the production. The character of Maggie Winslow (played by Katie Savage ’26) was never truly revealed. Despite Savage’s incredible vocals, her lines peppered throughout the show were hidden in the background and her character was never able to completely develop, to my disappointment.

The relationship between the director Zach and an auditioner, Cassie Ferguson (played by Rachelle Weiss ’26), was a mysterious story that ultimately felt underwhelming. It is revealed during the second act that Cassie is Zach’s ex-girlfriend, who had left him to fulfill her dreams in Hollywood but returned after realizing that she did not have what it takes to be an actress.

Weiss and Cargill built the tension throughout the show, culminating in Weiss’ performance of “The Music and the Mirror,” in which Cassie begs Zach to let her into the chorus line. He is initially reluctant because he believes she is meant for more than just a chorus role (though in the end, she gets the part). Weiss’ solo and dance number were captivating, but the message of the song goes back to a performer’s dedication to dance, which felt somewhat redundant by this point in the show.

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The final musical number — “One (Reprise)” — came after Zach chose the eight auditioners to be in the chorus line, sending the rest home. Though this song isn’t as viscerally passionate as “What I Did For Love,” the number which immediately precedes it, the dancing was lively and left the audience with a memory of gold sequined blazers and high kicks to finish off the show.

“A Chorus Line’s” atypical showstyle — highlighting the individual talents of the cast members — allowed for some truly memorable performances from the Ram’s Head company.

Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective thoughts, opinions and critiques.

Originally posted 2023-04-18 03:01:19.


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